By Amanda J. Scroggs, Lakeview Middle School Teacher-Librarian for Warsaw Community School Corporation
I suddenly find myself dumpster diving for that container, paper towel roll, or tin can. I see potential in every piece of cardboard, candy wrapper, straw, and yarn. I am a Maker-Librarian! I’m a year into this journey to develop a maker community with an instructional framework to support maker-centered learning. I’m passionate about promoting a maker mindset. We are a team of people who are striving to create a culture of learning by doing, of embracing failure leading to success, of celebrating creative expression.
I spent the summer of 2016 removing old bookcases, old reference books, old carpet, and old equipment to literally make space for a Makerspace. I rearranged and redesigned to create a multipurpose future-ready library. I spent the summer reading, researching, and reaching out. I visited a local library with a new Makerspaces in Nappanee and TekVenture – a community Makerspace in Fort Wayne. My husband and I made a weekend excursion to a Maker Faire in Detroit.
Another local middle school was under renovation, so I volunteered to help. A big thank you to Jim LeMasters who rescued multiple woodworking benches, tools, and storage units.
A pivotal moment was being awarded a Red Apple Grant through Warsaw Education Foundation – an organization that champions academic innovation and excellence in Warsaw Community Schools. This was the “seed” money we needed to stock our Fab Lab with hand tools and power tools. I am grateful to have a building principal, Amy Sivley, who believed in and supported this venture – even running Maker Club workshops too!
Using part of the library supplies budget, I was able to purchase some craft paint, glue, paper, and basic art supplies. Like many educators across this country, I personally purchased many of the necessary supplies to kick-start this initiative. Some great finds have been at garage sales, thrift stores, and on clearance racks at Target.
Our Tech department provided funds for Squishy Circuits, LittleBits, Arduino, Makey Makey, Ozbot, Dash and Sphero. I attended a 3-day summer workshop to build and bring a Vex Robot to our library.
I have a very long list of people I am thankful to for their donations of materials and time – innovation is never a solo endeavor. My Building Tech, Jean Beeson, champions our weekly Maker Club. My husband Jon, a carpenter, attends weekly to teach skills and help students bring their ideas to life. Our PLTW teacher, Justin Weaver, runs the 3D Printer trainings and weekly builds.
We have parent and community volunteers who attend regularly – Karen Dille runs the Cricut and Paper Crafting Station; Andy Kerr runs the Bike Restoration Station; Rachel Merriman runs the Textile Station. We have two homeschooled teens, Veronica and Jessica Mason, who volunteer their time to help us set up, run a station, and clean up weekly. Our teachers have embraced our Monday Maker Club and we are seeing evidence of a culture shift as we adopt a maker philosophy. We are starting to fill our library commons and Fab Lab with classes coming in to engage in enrichment “making” opportunities. We’ve developed district partnerships with Welding, JROTC, AG, FACS, Science, Art – these departments have loaned us space, materials, and high school mentors!
Local businesses have loaned us tools (specialized for our bike project), donated gift cards for ingredients to make fudge for a science project (demonstrating rock and mineral compositions), and provided experts (WLM is helping us adopt a landscape project to beautify our school and KC Recycle are educating students on how to prep soil using a worm composter).
We have multiple Maker Stations – there’s something for everyone! Our attendance varies from 35 to 62 students weekly. Food Services provide a juice box and snack to all.
Maker Station #1: The Coloring Cart
Maker Station # 2: Sewing & Textile (We have a Loom)
Maker Station # 3: Hi-Tech * 3D Printers; Vex Clawbot; Squishy Circuits; LittleBits; Arduino; Makey Makey; Ozbot; Dash; Sphero.
Maker Station # 4: LEGO Engineering & Design
Maker Station # 5: Cricut & Paper Crafting
Maker Station # 6: Fab Lab * Bike Restoration & Tool Closet (Red Apple Grant: Warsaw Education Foundation)
Maker Station # 7: Fab Lab * Cardboard Creations & Upcycling
Maker Station # 8: Fab Lab * Carpentry & Construction
Maker Station #9: Textile Crafts * Knit; Crochet; Loom; Weave; Embroidery; Bead Jewelry
Maker Station #10: Take Apart Tech – Recycling Electronics
Maker Station #11: Performance Art * Vocals, Instruments, Magic, Juggling, Comedy, and More
I’ve hosted fellow librarians who have an interest in launching or expanding their Makerspace and offer that to all readers. It takes a village…and many trips to Michael’s…but this has truly transformed our school library!